UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football training camp is officially underway with the Nittany Lions reporting back to campus Sunday for move in and meetings ahead of Monday's opening day of practice.
Ahead of the 2017 season, check in at each position for a closer look at who's back and who's new to the Nittany Lion roster.
- Billy Fessler (Sr./Jr.)
- Trace McSorley (Sr./Jr.)
- Michael Shuster (So./Fr.)
- Tommy Stevens (Jr./So.)
- Jake Zembiec (So./Fr.)
- Sean Clifford (Fr./Fr., 6-2/211, Cincinnati, Ohio/Saint Xavier)
What To Watch For:
After earning the starting job in last year's training camp, McSorley returns poised for another successful season as the leader of the Nittany Lion offense. Putting together a record-setting season last year, McSorley will look to build upon impressive numbers, throwing for 3,614 yards with 29 passing touchdowns in addition to 3,979 yards of total offense, earning All-Big Ten second team honors.
One of three team captains this year, since taking over the reins of a newly installed offense, McSorley's leadership has grown as fast as his dynamic skill set. As he noted only a few months ago, spring ball provided ample time to look back on last year's installation. With a better understanding of what worked and what did not, this year's added sense of balanced confidence has only dialed up the intensity and focus.
In this year's Blue-White Game, Stevens threw for 216 yards with 17 completions and three touchdowns. His exciting performance wasn't really all that surprising to head coach James Franklin though, who noted he had seen that level of excellence carry through from last year's competition for the starting job on many occasions. In 2016, Stevens played in seven games, highlighting the year with a 13-yard touchdown after lining up in the slot for a jet sweep hand-off for his first career score in addition to a 12-yard touchdown run at Rutgers.
As Franklin also said postgame at Blue-White, there's still a need for increased competition within the unit, noting he feels Penn State has two quarterbacks the team could win with, but a third option is a priority.
An important member of the scout team, Fessler returns to the group as a senior, having made some contributions on special teams holding on placements, seeing action in four games last year.
One of seven returning Nittany Lions from central Pennsylvania, Michael Shuster added 10 pounds after completing a redshirt season last year. Also returning is Rochester, New York native Jake Zembiec, who redshirted last year and capped off the spring semester with a perfect 4.0 GPA in the classroom.
For Zembiec, a redshirt season followed up by spring practice all meant more time to get into the playbook to gain confidence.
"I think knowing the playbook now, it allows me to focus a lot more on actually throwing the football or running the football, whatever I'm doing and not second guessing," Zembiec said. "I trust myself to make the right reads."
Between Fessler, Shuster and Zembiec, all three have made contributions as a sideline signal caller.
New to the unit this fall is Clifford, a true freshman and consensus four-star prospect who arrived this summer for his first season with the Nittany Lions. Closing out a standout high school campaign, he helped guide St. Xavier High School to a Division I Ohio State Championship with a double overtime win over St. Ignatius.